After more than 35 years in development, the world’s first commercially available jetpack is now on sale. The sticker price is a mere US$ 150,000.
Made from carbon fiber and aluminium, the Martin Jetpack doesn’t have the traditional rockets of science-fiction jetpacks, which are powerful but very difficult to control. Instead it uses rotary thruster fans, like a flying car. Actually, it’s more like a flying bicycle.
A small petrol engine drives two fans, one on either side of the pilot, to lift the jetpack and a single human into the air. There’s no room for passengers. For safety, it’s fitted with a low-altitude parachute for use should things go wrong, and an auto-hover mode if you let go of the controls.
After initial test flights in 2011, an updated version was shown off last year at the Paris airshow. It could fly for up to 30 minutes at speeds as fast as 74km per hour. Pilots should be able to reach altitudes of up to 1,000m, taking off and landing vertically, meaning rooftops, gardens and parking lots are all potential landing zones.
In fact, Martin believes that the jetpack’s ability to land in confined spaces will be its biggest selling point. It’s not aimed at millionaires as an expensive toy, but rather the emergency services; and the military.
There’s one entrepreneurial executive who’s bound to be interested in a jetpack – ‘Iron Man’ Elon Musk. What better way to arrive at a SpaceX press conference?